For years I’ve told friends and customers not to waste precious freezer space on Lean Cuisines, processed vegetables (we live in California!) or any dessert that calls itself  “low-fat, non-dairy.” Really, the only three things one should pay P,G&E to freeze  are 1.) high quality ice cream, 2.) Morris Grassfed Beef (or another sustainable source of protein, like wild salmon or range-free chicken) and, of course, 3.) a bottle of Absolut vodka.

So you can imagine my delight when Joe and I went over to our friends Debbie and Ken’s for dinner last night and I opened their freezer to find three things, and three things only: homemade lemon ice cream, neatly stacked various cuts of Morris Grassfed Beef, and a bottle of Absolut vodka.

a model freezer: ice cream, grassfed beef and vodka
Extra points for the Bombay gin, next to the vodka. Debbie is the longtime coordinator for Live Earth Farm CSA, and if there is anyone who walks the talk it’s Debbie.  For the past 12 years, she has “built, nurtured, and cared for” Live Earth Farm’s CSA, according to owner Tom Broz. Together, they have created one of the most successful models of Community Supported Agriculture and  introduced fresh, local produce to thousands of Californians.
One of her roles was to create recipes for customers wondering “What am I supposed to do with this?” as they peer into their CSA box each week.  She has built up a database on Live Earth’s website with hundreds of recipes for everything from arugula to zucchini. Joe and I were treated to several of them last night and all I can say is: Debbie, you are amazing!
We started with roasted Padrone peppers, heated over a cast iron skillet and tossed with olive oil and sea salt. Sweet and smoky, these treats are a popular tapas dish in Spain and the perfect introduction to Debbie’s next five courses. Next, we had fresh, local goat cheese, shaped into a beautiful floral loaf, and served on baguette slices. Paired with an orange, red onion, and Kalamata olive salad, the mellow cheese was a perfect complement. The orange slices came from a tree in the backyard. We had a Thomas Kruse 2008 Zinfandel, as sweet as a port, to sip in between.  Goat cheese and backyard orange tree salad
Next up: Morris Grassfed carpaccio. Sliced from a thawing filet mignon, Debbie created one of the most beautiful presentations of our beef that I have ever seen. Arranged on a round, glass platter, the raw slices were topped with arugula, capers, freshly shredded Parmesan cheese, ground peppercorns and lemon, also from Debbie’s backyard orchard.

Morris Grassfed filet mignon, prepared to perfection in a tasty carpaccio dish

 As if these first courses were not enough, Debbie announced that there was more to come. Pacing ourselves, we slowly finished off our salads and portions of carpaccio, also served atop baguette slices, sprinkled with capers and. topped with a slice of Parm. Next up: ricotta and dill gnocchi. Simple and light, these rolled delicacies are not as heavy as potato gnocchi and were served with Debbie’s homemade tomato sauce. If every bite was not so healthy and beautifully prepared, I would have said “Basta!” after our fifth course. But food so close to its source, fresh, and served slowly doesn’t leave you feeling full. Onward to fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie in a Debbie’s hand rolled crust.

A perfect ending to a perfect meal. Photo credits go to Debbie’s husband and very lucky housemate, Ken, who tells me that she may not cook like this every night, but “it’s pretty close!” Debbie, thanks for your celebration of local food and being such an inspiration!

%d bloggers like this: